The Smithtown East boys' lacrosse team came into the game against Ward Melville on Tuesday with hopes of making up for its 14-2 loss to Ward Melville on May 4. But the Patriots started off with a 4-0 lead over the Bulls that turned into a 12-5 win and a trip to the Division I semifinals.
“They did a better job off the wings coming up with the ball and getting the possession,” Smithtown East head coach Jason Lambert said. “That really led to them being able to score.”
And score they did. Ward Melville midfielder Jack Bruckner led his team with three goals and one assist. Bruckner, a junior who has already committed to nationally-ranked Duke University, said he was satisfied with the way things went during the game.
“Our defense played well and our transition game was up to par,” he said.
Ward Melville coach Mike Hoppey said he was happy Bruckner and company could come out with a win, but pointed out changes that would need to be made.
“I thought we were a little sloppy offensively, especially in the second quarter, so we have got to be better all around,” he said.
Smithtown East (11-7) cut the lead to 4-2 at halftime, but the rest of the match was all Ward Melville (14-4), who scored eight goals in the second half. Frank Lucatuorto and John Edmonds finished with two goals each and Christian Mazzone had two goals and an assist.
Smithtown goalie Brian Balkham made some standout saves in the game, finishing with 10. Lambert said he has been impressed with Balkham for as long as he’s had him on the team. Balkham, a junior, has already committed to the University of North Carolina, and said playing for Smithtown East has prepared him for competing at a collegiate level.
“I go as hard as I can and give 100 percent,” he said. “When it gets tough, that’s when you have to work your hardest and fight through it.”
Ward Melville has a future after this win against Smithtown East: the Patriots will play the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 2 Smithtown West and No. 10 Half Hollow Hills East. The game will be held on Thursday at 8 p.m. at Dowling Sports Complex.
Hoppey was content with the victory.
“I think we played alright,” he said. “But I think we have to play better if we want to move on.”